Monday, January 17, 2011

Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr

When your kids are home from school today, plan to spend a little time talking about the holiday that the nation is celebrating. I think it is important to teach our children about tolerance, love, and equality, and this is the perfect opportunity. Here are some things you might discuss:

• Peaceful behavior. Martin Luther King, Jr. promoted non-aggression. Show your children that this is the best way to handle conflict. Role-play with them different situations that they might face and have them act out a peaceful way to react (ex: Someone takes your toy; someone calls you a bad name; someone likes something different than you, etc). You can even use puppets—some kids are reluctant to act things out, but are more at ease when using puppets.

• Sharing and being fair. Martin Luther King, Jr. fought for the end of segregation. Discuss the meaning of segregation in a way that relates to your child (like why it’s not nice to say “no boys allowed”). Stress the importance of sharing and being fair no matter how they are different from us.

• What makes us alike and different? There are many things that we have in common, and that are different—not just skin color. You might bring up physical features like eye color and hair color, or other things like favorite color, hobbies, religion, gender etc. Make sure to include in your discussion that it’s okay to be different, and no one is better than someone else because of any of these things. Play a matching game to reinforce the skill of finding things that are the same. You can make a matching game or use one you already have. You could also play “I Spy” to find things around the room that are similar (ex: things that are all the same shape or the same color).

• Skin Color. I feel that rather than teaching our children to be “color-blind” it is better to help them be aware of, and celebrate differences. Show pictures of people with different skin colors (clip from magazines or find some online). Discuss the science behind it—different amounts of melanin (the dark pigment in our skin) cause skin to be light or dark. Have your children examine their own skin. Notice how it feels, any freckles, what color it is. Don’t just call it white or brown or black. Use descriptive terms or relate it to an object (ex: It looks like bread or chocolate milk or peanuts; it’s light brown, cream or peach). End the discussion with having them draw a self portrait. Have them mix colors to get just the right skin tone or use multicultural crayons.

Here are some books that might accompany your discussions:
  • All the Colors of the Earth by Sheila Hamanaka
  • We Are All Alike, We Are All Different by Cheltenham Elementary School Kindergartners
  • Why People are Different Colors by Julian May

Marie is a stay at home mom of two adorable kiddos who keep her super busy! She has a dual degree in Elementary Education and Early Childhood Education and continues to use her degree everyday of her mommy career!

Marie is one of my good friends and someone I look up to very much as a mommy. She has tons of fun ideas for things to do with your kids - so keep an eye out for her future guest posts.

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